Kidney swap

October 15, 2008 12:19:00 PM PDT
Through a web camon Tuesday, two pairs of donor-recipients met for the first time. Barbara Allen and Juan Ramirez were in Atlanta. They just met a few days ago. Same goes for Daisy Ramirez and Marie Johnson. They're at Albert Einstein Medical Center in Philadelphia.

Daisy needed a kidney transplant. Her kidneys had failed and she needed dialysis to survive. "It wasn't a normal life; I was so tired," she said.

Her brother Juan wanted to donate his kidney but he wasn't a match. Meanwhile in Georgia, Marie wanted to help her best friend Barbara who had been waiting two years for a kidney transplant. "How can I watch my best friend die," Marie explained.

Unfortunately Marie wasn't a match for Barbara. But then their doctors told them about the 'Paired Donation Network.' It matches people willing to donate with people in need of transplants. "This is just another creative way of increasing the amount of transportation with good, quality outcomes," said Dr. Radi Zaki of Albert Einstein Division of Transplantation.

Here's how it worked this time: Juan wasn't a match for his sister but he was for Barbara so she got his kidney. Marie matched Daisy so Daisy got Marie's kidney. (Juan went to Atlanta for the operation. Marie came to Philadelphia.)

"I've had a lot of people say to me what you're doing is so heroic, so wonderful- no it's not, it's what you should do," Marie said.

Daisy and Barbara are now looking forward to getting her lives back. All four believe this match was meant to be. "This is a miracle, this is a miracle, it's not a coincidence," Daisy said.